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Ukrainian President Drafts Reservists, Rules Out General Mobilization for Now


Military trucks move down a street outside Donetsk, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 22, 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday said he is conscripting reservists for a special period but ruled out a general mobilization after Russia announced it was moving troops into eastern Ukraine.

One of Europe's worst security crises in decades is unfolding after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two areas of eastern Ukraine as independent. Both adjoin Russia and have been controlled by Russian-backed fighters since 2014.

Ukraine accused Russia of wrecking peace talks on ending an 8-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine and resisted Moscow's demands it scrap its ambition to join the NATO alliance.

In a televised address Zelenskyy said he was still pursuing diplomatic ways out of the crisis and welcomed Turkey's willingness to participate in multilateral talks. But he said Ukraine would not cede any territory to Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with leaders of parliament fractions and groups in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 22, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with leaders of parliament fractions and groups in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 22, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)

Addressing his country after a cross-party meeting in parliament, Zelenskyy announced a program of "economic patriotism" that included incentivizing local production and value added tax cuts on gasoline.

"There is no need for general mobilization today. We need to promptly replenish the Ukrainian army and other military formations," he said.

"As the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Ukraine, I issued a decree on the conscription of reservists during a special period," he said.

"We must increase the readiness of the Ukrainian army for all possible changes in the operational situation," he said.

Zelenskyy has publicly criticized foreign embassies and Ukrainian businessmen for leaving Ukraine for security reasons, and he renewed his call for companies to stay put.

"All of them must stay in Ukraine. Their enterprises are located on Ukrainian soil, which is protected by our military," he said.

Ukraine and Western countries have accused Russia of instigating the conflict in eastern Ukraine and sending troops and heavy weapons to prop up the separatists from 2014. Moscow had always denied doing so and demanded Kyiv hold direct talks with separatist leaders whose legitimacy Ukraine does not recognize.

"Yesterday the Russian Federation recognized the independence of quasi-entities in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said.

"Today, it ratified the so-called agreements and gave permission to the president of Russia to use the armed forces abroad. That is in the Donbas. On the territory of Ukraine. 'We are not there' was replaced by the official 'we are still here.'"

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